A movie in color

Film. Blackkklansman arrives on the screens haloed his Grand Prix in Cannes. Presentation of the new Spike Lee, between action comedy and political film.

By Jacques Braunstein

In 1989, Spike Lee’s favorite for the Palme d’Or with Do the Right Think was left empty-handed. After a second unsuccessful attempt with Jungle Fever in 1991, he turned away from the Cannes Film Festival. And it was almost on the sly that he came last year to present at the American pavilion his film for Netflix, Rodney King.

But this year he came back through the grand entrance, his new feature film Blackkklansman was in official competition and even won the Grand Prix to the surprise of festival-goers. Based on a true story, and totally improbable, Blackkklansman tells the story of a black policeman, Ron Stallworth, who infiltrated in the 70s in the Klu Klux Klan, the white supremacist organization. It is John David Washington, son of Denzel Washington, who plays the policeman who went so far as to exchange regularly with Klan’s leader, David Duke.

Obviously he was content to talk to the leaders of the racist movement by phone. It’s one of his colleagues, Flip Zimmerman, played by Adam Driver, who met in real life the adaptants of the Klan while he himself was Jewish.

The film resonates with the news, since the same David Duke is today an active supporter of President Trump. Many times come back replicas like “Make America great” or “America First” that make the room laugh grundginly.

Less pessimistic than another film by the militant black filmmaker, Blackkklansman shows us a black, a Jew and other whites working together against a common enemy. His character considers the possibility of changing the system from the inside before seeing the failure of this method. Spike Lee has always mixed genres, and here he zaps from comedy in costume to action film and political film to the chronicle of deep America. But this constant change of registry is a bit of a drag on the whole thing. In total Blackkklansman is a good police comedy that does not quite succeed in being the great political film that its director aspires to do.